Rarely are supporters happy when their team is knocked out of competition but Clare fans left Cusack Park this afternoon delighted with their team’s performance even if it wasn’t good enough to keep them in the title race.
Accused of lacking in determination following two heavy defeats from Tipperary and Limerick on the previous two Sunday’s, they turned in one of their best displays for some time when recording a fully merited five-point win over Cork, who qualify for a preliminary quarter-final.
The exchanges were heated and Clare joint manager Gerry O’Connor found himself banned to the stand from the sideline after just 15 minutes
In the end the heavy defeats of the previous two rounds meant that Clare’s scoring difference was far inferior to that of Cork and Limerick and they progress along with unbeaten Tipperary, at Clare’s expense.
Clare put down a marker from the throw in and the game was just 25 seconds old when Shane O’Donnell opened the scoring when shooting past Anthony Nash in the Cork goal.
Aidan McCarthy added a point but Cork responded with a Patrick Horgan goal in the second minute.
It was end to end stuff in the opening ten minutes at which stage the sides were tied at 1-04 each.
As the half-time whistle approached Clare had opened a four-point lead when they struck for goal number two, Tony Kelly striking to the top corner of Nash’s net from 20 metres.
The goal helped the Banner men to a five-point lead at half time when the score was 2-10 to 1-08.
The visitors returned with Stephen McDonnell and Damian Cahilane in their defence in place of Robert Downey and Eoin Cadogan and the fireworks had resumed before the ball was throw in with Tony Kelly and McDonnell clashing.
Cork landed the first four points of the half to close to within a point of the home side but Clare landed the next three.
By the end of the third quarter Clare were five clear again, 2-16 to 1-14.
Five minutes from the end of normal time the margin was back to one after Patrick Horgan struck for his second goal.
That was as good as it got for the Leesiders and from here to the final whistle which included six minutes of injury time Clare outscored Cork by five points to one.
While happy with the performance on this occasion, Clare fans will ask where was this passion in the previous two rounds as they reflect on a championship game attended by 16,856 patrons.
Clare: D. Tuohy; J. Browne,P. O’Conror, D.McInerney, C. Malone, C. Cleary S. Morey;J. McCarthy, C.Galvin (0-03); D. Ryan (0-02), P. Duggan (0-12, 10f), A. McCarthy (0-01) S. O’Donnell (1-00), J. Conlon (0-01), T. Kelly (1-02),
Subs; R. Taylor for A. McCarthy; D. Fitzgerald for O’Connor; S. Golden for J. McCarthy; A. Shanagher for Conlon; C. McInerney (0-02) for Ryan;
Cork: Cork; A. Nash; S. O’Donoghue, E. Cadogan, N. O’Leary; R.Downey, M. Ellis, M. Coleman; B. Cooper, D. Fitzgibbon (0-02); D. Kearney (0-01), S. Harnady (0-01), L. Meade; A. Cadogan (0-04), P. Horgan (2-09, 0-08f), A. Walsh;
Subs; S.McDonnell for Downey; D. Cahilane for E. Cadogan; S. Kingston (0-01) for Kearney; C. Lehane for Walsh;D. Dalton for Meade